Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Redrafting the Bucs' Last 5 1st-Round Picks

Luke Easterling@@LukeEasterlingCorrespondent IJune 23, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Redrafting the Bucs' Last 5 1st-Round Picks

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    Hindsight gives you better vision than a fighter pilot for sure.  But that doesn't mean it's not a fun exercise from time to time.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a roller coaster of a draft record over the past five seasons, with plenty more misses than hits. 

    From missing on two high second-round picks in the same year with Arrelious Benn and Brian Price to spending a third-rounder on a career backup cornerback in Myron Lewis over the likes of Jimmy Graham and NaVorro Bowman, the Bucs have plenty of picks for which they'd love to have a mulligan.

    So, let's transport Bucs fans to an alternate universe and give the Pewter Pirates a chance to redo each of their first-round picks over the past five drafts.

    The Breakdown

    • The 2013 draft is not included since the Bucs traded their first-round pick for CB Darrelle Revis.  That being the case, we'll cover the first rounds from 2008-2012.
    • Each of these redrafts takes place independent of the others.  For example, the redraft pick from the 2010 class doesn't impact the redraft pick from 2011's, etc.


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    Seventh Overall Pick

    Original pick: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

    Should have picked: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

    The Bucs traded back from the fifth overall pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars, picking up an extra fourth-round selection.  The pick was used on Barron, a big hitter who was a key contributor to Alabama's dominant defenses during his tenure.

    Barron has been a starter since Day 1 and has definitely seen some positive progression, particularly last season.  However, taking Kuechly instead would have had a quicker and more substantial impact on a defense desperate for consistency and playmaking ability. 

    Last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year could have paired with Lavonte David, whom the Bucs traded up to take in the second round of this draft, to give the team arguably the two best young linebackers in the league.

    31st Overall Pick

    Original pick: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

    Should have picked: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

    It's hard to argue against Martin considering the numbers he put up as a rookie.  The "Muscle Hamster" racked up nearly 2,000 total yards on his way to a Pro Bowl berth, but the NFL continues to prove that you don't have to spend a first-round pick to find a star running back.

    Martin struggled through the first half of his sophomore season before landing on injured reserve with a torn labrum and will now have multiple teammates vulturing touches away from him this season.

    Most NFL teams would love to be given a redo in this draft to select Wilson, who snatched the starting job in Seattle as a rookie and brought home a Super Bowl title in his second season.  Wilson could have provided the Bucs a playmaker and born leader under center for years to come.


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    20th Overall Pick

    Original pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

    Should have picked: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

    The Bucs entered the 2011 NFL draft desperate to address their need for a pass-rusher, so much so that they spent their first two picks on the position. 

    Tampa Bay used its first-rounder on Clayborn, who it hoped would become the force off the edge it so badly needed.  However, the former Hawkeye has yet to tally more than 7.5 sacks in a season and missed most of the 2012 season with a torn ACL

    Heading into this season, the Bucs have already announced they don't plan to pick up the fifth-year option on Clayborn's contract for next season, and free agent Michael Johnson was signed to a lucrative deal to provide the pass-rushing ability that Clayborn has yet to produce.

    Given the chance to make this pick again, the Bucs would likely waste no time making Kaepernick their new field general.  The electric playmaker has guided the 49ers" target="_blank">San Francisco 49ers to back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances, falling just short in Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens

    Much like taking Wilson in 2012 could have done, this pick would have given the Bucs the young, dynamic quarterback they currently lack.


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    3rd Overall Pick

    Original pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

    Should have picked: McCoy

    The Bucs got this one right.  Though he struggled with injuries early on in his career, McCoy has been on a steady incline over the past few seasons.

    The former Sooner has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad the last two seasons and posted a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2013. 

    Heading into this season, all signs point to a breakout year for McCoy, who has been singing the praises of new head coach Lovie Smith and his defensive scheme since the new sheriff was hired.  The addition of free agent pass-rusher Michael Johnson should also help free up McCoy to have his best season yet in 2014.


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    USA TODAY Sports

    17th Overall Pick

    Original pick: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

    Should Have Picked: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

    "Quarterback Purgatory" is a dangerous place to be, and that's just where the Bucs found themselves for multiple seasons thanks to this pick.

    Tampa Bay moved up two spots to secure Freeman, who was familiar with head coach Raheem Morris from his time on the Wildcats' coaching staff.  While he showed flashes of brilliance over his tenure in Tampa, Freeman was plagued by inconsistent play and never developed into a franchise quarterback, ultimately being released by the team early last season.

    There are a few options that would have been much better picks, but Harvin gets the nod here.  His speed, big-play ability and versatility would have given the Bucs a dangerous weapon on offense and in the return game. 

    Though his history of migraines and head injuries is concerning, he still would have been a much more productive investment than Freeman, who was released by the Giants at the end of May.


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    20th Overall Pick

    Original pick: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

    Should have picked: Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas

    I know, I know.  I just said that you don't have to take a running back in the first round, and Charles is the perfect example.  But if given the chance to make this pick again, there's no arguing with taking a home run threat in the backfield over a defender who struggled with injuries and couldn't stay out of trouble off the field.

    No one will argue Talib's natural ability, which was evidenced by his fantastic play in New England at times last season.  But his knack for getting into trouble in his personal life and his inability to stay healthy made him a constant wild card who couldn't be relied on, ultimately leading to a trade that sent him to the Patriots.

    Charles has topped 1,100 yards rushing in four of his six NFL seasons and tallied over 1,700 total yards in three of those campaigns.  The former Longhorn is a threat to take it to the house on every touch and returned from a torn ACL in 2011 to post a career-high 1,509 yards rushing in 2012. 

    Charles found the end zone frequently last season, rushing for 12 touchdowns and adding another seven scores as a receiver.  He would have given the Bucs a dynamic threat in the backfield who could have a huge impact on all three downs.